Stretch Yourself

ID-10076382I recommend stretching to every person in this practice, it’s a dialogue I have almost daily…but I must confess, I’m guilty of not stretching enough!  We taped an episode of my TV show all about stretching recently, with a great panel of guests including a Trainer, a Physiotherapist, and a Pilates/Yoga Instructor. We had a great conversation!

 Here are some of the highlights: Our lifestyle habits and daily stressors will inevitably create tightness, aches and pains, and can even predispose people to spinal subluxations and other joint injuries. Adequate muscle flexibility is just as important as muscle strength for performance in athletics and life in general.

Most people know this! However, many people complain they don’t have time to exercise, let alone improve flexibility. What are some practical strategies?

Think “intermittent and often”. I’ve now started stretching briefly while brushing my teeth! What else to do during those 2 minutes? I’ve also started stretching in the evenings while we are often relaxing and watching a movie or television. I listen to tons of audio training and podcasts, so now rather than just sitting still I find myself moving and doing some simple stretches. You can always find small moments to stretch if you are aware it is something you should do! So consider this a reminder.

Healthy movement involves: (1) proper joint alignment (this is where Chiropractic comes in) and (2) muscles that are capable of expanding and stretching to their full capacity; muscles which are full of oxygen and given the opportunity to move through their full range of motion.

Doing a few simple stretches intermittently and often can make a tremendous difference in your overall mobility as well as help you hold your adjustments and build a healthier spine. Including stretching as part of your healthy lifestyle will improve your sports performance, help with daily lifestyle tasks, and prevent injuries! If you need ideas ask me for a copy of the spinal stretches or borrow one of the many books in the practice.

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Tips for Shoveling Snow!

ID-1009691 2Snow season often means I will see a very consistent pattern within people’s spines, and it’s no surprise when you consider that an average shovelful of snow weighs 5 to 7 pounds! Take this load and repeat it over and over to clear a walkway or driveway, and you’ll quickly realize how much weight is lifted in one session of snow clearing — on average, several hundred pounds!

Shoveling snow can be a pain in more ways than one…. Keep these tips in mind to prevent hurting yourself while dealing with the snow on your property:

  • Don’t let the snow pile up: If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow each time. This approach is far less strenuous in the long run.
  • Pick the right shovel: Use a lightweight pusher-type shovel.
  • Push, don’t throw: Always push the snow to the side rather than throw it. That way you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and sudden twisting or turning movements.
  • Bend your knees: As with any heavy object, you need to use your knees, and leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.
  • Take a break: If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shoveling, call me rather than ‘waiting for it to go away’. If you have chest pain that is severe, see a doctor immediately
  • As always, keep your regular chiropractic adjustment schedule to maximize your spine’s ability to move the way it was designed to!
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Define Your Year Ahead!

I love this concept and started to apply it a few years ago, and to be honest I’ve switched from 1 word to 3 based on some other ideas that have come my way and the experiences I’ve had doing this exercise every year. I have found that choosing a word, (or a maximum of 3) has been a powerful way to help me focus my energies and keep my perspective about what truly matters most to me.

So how does it work? 

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word or a few? I bet you can.

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused. A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”. It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself. It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date, and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me.

A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places, opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals. A good friend recently shared her story of using theme words during the past few years. “Abundance” was her focus at one time and she grew her business substantially. “Love” was her focus another year, and she met the man she married. Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen! The simple act of awareness can powerfully keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily. You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect. Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started: Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun.

I’ve found that the best words are the ones that overlap the different facets of our lives and can be applied to different goals. For example, last year one of my words was “strong” to reflect my goals of  becoming physically stronger and also because I wanted to continue to grow a strong business.

Once you have your word write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you – and share your ideas!

One word is easy to remember. Pick one for yourself and let it shape the months to come and set the intention for a great 2016.

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Keep Your Holidays Healthy!

ID-10067023The holiday season is such a time of celebration, but it can also be a time of stress and challenge! I joke that people occasionally develop an acute case of the “overs”. This condition is triggered by overcommitting to social functions, overindulging in sugary, rich foods and alcohol,  and results in general feeling of overwhelmEmotional states can be stressed, but our bodies are also stressed by the foods we eat, minimal exercise and too little sleep.  This all leads to sluggish immune systems and more frequent accidents and injuries. The great news is that this condition is completely preventable!

Consider the following points and make some changes in your life and within your family this holiday season:

Socialize – We all need social connections, but during the holiday season many people are ‘overstimulated’, ‘overcommitted’, and ‘overwhelmed’ with too many events. Be choosy about how you spend your social time. Be assertive and learn to say no to situations that will upset you.  Decline invitations (if you can do so without grossly offending the invitee) that create unnecessary emotional stress, or will simply burden your schedule and shortchange you of sleep. 

Reach out – At the other end of the social spectrum is loneliness.  With changing family dynamics, different living arrangements, and simple geography for some people, many are left alone during the holidays.  If you feel lonely or isolated consider getting involved in different activities, volunteering your time at seniors homes, food banks or other organizations geared towards helping others. The rewards will be far greater than just the social stimulation.

Exercise – Quite simply, physical activity makes every system in your body work better. Instead of taking a break from your exercise routine, keep it up! or consider getting started! It doesn’t have to wait until January and your resolution of getting in shape or losing weight.  The fact is, exercise is simply something most people have to build into their lives, work into their schedules. You will always find something better to do with your time! Exercise helps relieve stress and prevents weight gain.  Moving your body will always give you a boost, even just a some stretching or a brisk walk will rejuvenate your body and mind.

Eat Regularly & Prepare for Outings – If you are going to  a party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation.  Doing so will  slow your metabolism, leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat later in the evening. Instead, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to overindulge when you are out. If you are planning on consuming alcohol be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects.

Take a Breather – It IS the season for family, friends, and being on ‘holiday’ so don’t forget to take the time to relax and indulge in activities you enjoy! Make time for yourself too, often time alone is what is easily neglected with busy social schedules or family commitments.  Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you and change your perspective if you are having a frantic day.  Do something that clears your mind, slows your breathing and restores inner calm, Journal, listen to music, take a brisk walk and look at the lights, read a book, whatever interests YOU and gets you in a quiet place for a small bit of time.

You CAN indulge, celebrate, and still feel good in January! Make good choices for you and your family and you will enjoy the holiday season and start 2016 in good health.

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Combat the 3 C’s: Colds, Coughs & Congestion

69443tegi1jeqhsMany times when people in the practice are dealing with colds, coughs, sore throats, or congestion they want to stay home, but you’ll often hear me encourage them to come get adjusted and stress the importance of it during illness.

If germs were the only factor that made us sick…we would all be in serious trouble! However, a healthy body is dealing with germs everyday and does not become ill. Sure some bacteria or viruses are more threatening than others, but in general when we become ill it’s because our body’s ability to cope with the demand on our immune system has failed.

Congestion, coughing, sneezing, fevers, and a runny nose are all signs the body is effectively creating an immune response to help the body eradicate the bacteria or virus causing the infection. This is a good thing and not to be suppressed! Medications to make you feel better offer temporary relief, but often create other imbalances in the body that can affect your long-term health.

As per any ailment, my recommendations are always to support the body as best as you can and strategize to boost the immune system, and Chiropractic care is a huge contributor to a healthy immune system!

Chiropractic works!

A study by a neurologist found that 92% of children with chronic tonsillitis had upper cervical misalignments, and after studying 76 children with chronic tonsillitis it was concluded that “tonsillitis goes hand in hand with movement restriction in the cranio-cervical skull and neck junction”

If you’re sick and suffering make a spinal check-up high on your priority list. In addition to increasing fluids, sleep, and nutritional support, your body will likely recover without any other intervention and give your body better health moving forward.

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Adjust Your Immune System This Winter!

ID-1009691 2Many people in my practice notice that once they start to get adjusted, they seem to get sick less often, and that when they do succumb to cold, flu or infection of some kind, they recover faster. They also find that sometimes the very best time to come in for an adjustment is when they are sick!  

Here’s why:

“Chiropractic care optimizes whatever genetic abilities an individual has to resist disease.”    ~ Dr. Ronald Peru, PhD, Chief of Cancer Prevention at New York’s Preventive Medicine Institute

Dr. Peru found that chiropractic patients had a 200% stronger immune system than people who had no chiropractic care, and a 400% greater immune competence than people with cancer or other serious diseases.  This response was consistent throughout the study group and showed no decline with age! In 2005 Dr. Peru also studied the benefits of chiropractic care on repairing DNA (the body’s building blocks) and he concluded that: “DNA repair is the highest or most effective in individuals who had no symptoms and who had been receiving chiropractic care for the longest period of time.”

A large retrospective study, conducted by Robert Blanks Ph.D and colleagues (1997) observed 2,818 individuals undergoing chiropractic care. These individuals reported an average overall improvement in physical symptoms including stiffness/lack of flexibility in the spine, physical pain, fatigue, incidence of colds and flu, headaches, menstrual discomfort, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, dizziness and falls. What is more important though, is that the incidence of colds and flu was reduced by an average of 15% in this large population who were undergoing regular chiropractic care.

Without boring you with the scientific details (exciting to me, but perhaps not as much to you!) many other studies have concluded that the optimal functioning of the immune system is critically dependent on the balance of the endocrine (hormone) and nervous systems, and that disruption of this balance can lead to immune defects and can significantly contribute to the occurrence of allergy and autoimmune disease. Chiropractic care focuses on making sure our brain and nervous system are clearing coordinating all bodily systems, and that the body as a whole is working effectively to keep us resilient and strong!

From the inside-out, Chiropractic strengthens every part of your body. This year, during “cold and flu season” give your body the best defence with a healthy spine!

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Give Thanks

ID-100204763“A Man becomes what he thinks about all day long.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson
What you dwell upon expands.

If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude, and a greater sense of self-worth.
The health benefits of gratitude are an amazing example of just how connected the mind and the body are. Research shows the feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, love and caring enhance health. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for and hold that feeling for as little as 15-20 seconds, many subtle but powerful physiological changes take place inside you:

 
~ Levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin decrease, supporting many organ systems and boosting your immune system
~ Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart. Heart rhythms become more harmonious, affecting other organs and lifting your mood
~ Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues

 
Studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.

 
Somedays, some weeks, this might not be as easy as it sounds! I get it. But as my dad says
“When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change.”
We can’t always change our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.

The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have. Make gratitude part of your life by adopting more thankful thoughts or making the time to write them down.
A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life. Chances are you won’t be able to stop at just 5! My sons and I do this at dinner most nights (sure they roll their eyes sometimes…but I challenge them to it anyway!) Make simple acts of gratitude part of your everyday life, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the shifts in your mental state and how much better you will feel.

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A Few Basic Office Ergonomics

ID-10098747How you spend your day can affect your spinal health, and I’m often discussing ways to improve workspaces to minimize stress on the body, and these tips might help you work more effectively too!

Repetitive postures can create spinal stress, and there are simple ways to improve your workspace to reduce the risk.

How can you tell if your office environment is safe and conducive to your comfort and productivity?

Consider the following questions:

In your workplace, do you:

Sit for long periods of time?     Perform repetitive arm or hand movements?

Spend much time on the telephone?    Have to turn your head to see your computer monitor?

Take few or no breaks?     Sit under dim or flickering lights?

Spend hours time looking down at papers on your desk?      Experience headaches or neck pain?

Experience aching, numbness, or tingling in your fingers and hands?      Experience neck or back pain?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, you could be at risk of developing (or already suffering from) repetitive strain injuries related to your office setup.  Consider these tips: 

The Keyboard: Position it above your lap. Ensure that you can type with your arms relaxed, close to your body with elbows bent at 90 degrees and wrists level.

The Computer Monitor: Position it directly in front of you. (Your eyes should be looking straight ahead, not with your head tilted up and back, and not looking down).  Keep your monitor free of dirt and smudges, to reduce glare. Allow the muscles in your eyes to relax by taking a 20 second break every 20 minutes, during which you look at an object that is located at least 20 feet away from you.

The Mouse:  Use a light grip to avoid strain. When moving it, use your elbow to guide it instead of your wrist.

The Telephone: Use your hand to support the telephone against your ear, and alternate regularly instead of cradling the phone between the ear and shoulder. Consider using a headset or speaker to limit the strain on your neck and arms.

The Chair: Sit upright, all the way back. You can even roll up a towel and place it against the arch of your back for lumbar spine support. Your chair’s height should be adjusted to a level at which your knees are bent at a 90-100 degree angle, with your feet touching the floor.

Take breaks! Move Your Body! By far the most important thing I can stress is to vary your tasks as much as possible throughout your day. Keep your body from being stuck in any position for too long, and give your brain a boost as well. Consider standing or walking during phone conversation and meetings if possible.

Making a few simple ergonomic changes to your work environment is a good investment for your health, and productivity! Take a few minutes to assess your work station – what can you improve?

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Allergy Relief!

ID-100311653 2

Every spring and fall I start to hear the same comments in the office…

“I cannot believe the difference in how much less I am sneezing since I started getting adjusted!”

“I need an adjustment, my allergies are acting up again and I know they will be lessened when I leave.” 

“Thank you. My sinus congestion is dramatically better, my breathing is easier, and I am sleeping again.”

What causes allergies? 

Allergies occur when the immune system ‘overreacts’ to an allergen (dust, pollen, pet dander, foods) and produces too many histamines to counteract this process. Histamines are chemicals the body creates to neutralize the effects of the item offending the respiratory or visual system, a way the body’s innate wisdom attempts to correct the problem.  Histamines cause you to produce mucous, sneeze, will make your eyes watery, and even give you rash sometimes, all ways the body tries to expel the offending allergen.

What’s the connection with Chiropractic Care?

As a Chiropractor, my initial focus is restoring proper alignment in the body, to restore proper function and allow the body to better adapt to the ‘stressors’ in your environment, including those of seasonal allergies.

Spinal misalignments (termed subluxations) are caused by physical stress, emotional stress, and chemical stress. These misalignments in your spine cause muscle imbalances, joint irritation, inflammation, pain, and weakness. What is more important though, spinal subluxations affect your spinal cord and impair healthy neurological function.  Chiropractic adjustments correct misalignments in your spine, restoring proper joint movement, balancing your muscles, and improving your overall health! 

The correction of spinal subluxations helps your body respond more appropriately to the pollens, dander and other airborne items you inhale because they help restore balance to your immune system.  There is a direct correlation between your spine and immune system.  A nervous system that is working more effectively permits the immune system to function more effectively, and lessens the overreaction to other irritants – something all allergy sufferers need!  

How can you get started finding relief?

An initial consultation and assessment will help us determine if Chiropractic can help, and whether my approach is right for you.  Following your evaluation we’ll create an action plan to get you functioning and feeling better. We’ll monitor your symptoms and changes over time, and adjust your care as needed. Many people in my practice note dramatic reductions in their allergy symptoms and improvements in their overall wellbeing when they add Chiropractic care to their life.

Once we’ve started to correct the imbalances in your spine, we’ll also start to look at some of the lifestyle factors that might be triggering your allergic reactions, and implement other supportive ways to help your immune system work more efficiently. This might involve examining your diet, emotional stressors, sleep patterns, and natural remedies to help you find faster relief while your body is healing.

If you’re suffering with seasonal allergies perhaps it’s time to consider a new approach?

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Feet, Ankles or Knees Sore?

IMG_4301Every joint in the body is dependent on the functioning of the others, like an intricate series of levers and hinges providing you structure and movement. If there is an imbalance in the lumbar spine or hips, there will often be compensation problems in the knees, ankles and feet as the body tries to adapt to the faulty mechanics. It’s common for these to resolve with Chiropractic spinal adjustments!

 

 

Chiropractic works for so much more than just back pain, a healthy spine is the foundation for all the other joints in your body and protects the most vital organ – the nervous system. Subluxations in the lumbar spine will affect healthy nerve flow to the legs and feet, and when these misalignments are corrected, numbness, pain, and inflammation in the feet resolves. Many people are pleasantly surprised at the unexpected relief they find.

The next time your feet are aching consider Chiropractic first. If we can’t help, we will gladly refer you to one of the local Chiropodists for more specific foot care – we look to the spine first when there is any problem, but have a great referral network of other professionals to support you in regaining the level of health you deserve.

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